Friday, June 05, 2015

Your Social Network and the Generation of Innovative Ideas

Salvatore Parise, Eoin Whelan and Steve Todd have published their latest research in MIT Sloan Management Review this month.  They have studied hundreds of ideas generated by employees of data storage giant EMC and correlated that data with information about the Twitter networks of those same workers.  EMC has a system whereby employees can submit new ideas.  The researchers gathered that information and then linked it to Twitter usage by those same employees.  What did they find?  The Twitter users did not generate more ideas than the non-Twitter users.  However, other employees and experts judged the ideas submitted by Twitter users more positively.   Most interestingly, they found that people with more diverse Twitter networks tended to generate higher quality ideas.  The finding proves important because many people tend to follow others with similar beliefs when they join social networks such as Twitter.  This study confirms the value of building diverse networks.  We have to avoid the confirmation bias, i.e. gathering data (i.e. Twitter users) that simply confirm what we already believe.

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